Desert Tortoise Fact Sheet

Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Testudinidae
Genus: Gopherus
Species: agassizii
Life span:

50-80 years

Egg Gestation:

Females lay 1-3 clutches of 2-15 eggs between May-June. Incubation is 90-135 days

Number of young at birth:


Age of maturity: 15-20 years

The upper shell ranges between 6-14 in long


24-51 lbs

Size at birth: 2 in




  • Found in the deserts of southwestern United States to Northwestern Mexico.
  • Desert tortoises are herbivores eating wild grass, flowers, cactus pads and fruit. 
  • The shell is high domed with prominent growth lines on shields of both the upper and lower shell sections.  The top is brown or horn-colored; the bottom is yellowed.
  • Females can give birth for up to 15 years after initial mating with the male.
  • Desert tortoises are inactive most of the year.
  • They spend much of their life in burrows and rock shelters in order to regulate body temperature and reduce water loss.
  • Rough scales on the front legs along with high domed shell make the desert tortoise practically invulnerable.
  • Vulnerable species due to human related changes to the environment.